Monday, December 10, 2007

To blog, or not to blog...

Alright, alright. I am long overdue, I know. I haven't blogged because I have so much to say! It makes it tough to decide what to write about, you know?? I'm coming home in TWO WEEKS! WOOHOOO! I am looking forward to my month and a half at home, but I'm really starting to think about how much I will miss people here too! I moved with some apprehension about how I would like it in Switzerland, if I would find friends, manage the language, etc., but God has been so kind to give me friends that I love here and a "home" in Switzerland to miss! By the time I come back in February, I'm sure I will be excited to see everyone again. That's a good feeling.

School is winding down for the semester. I have 4 exams (starting with Ecology on Friday), a couple papers and one presentation yet to do, plus the usual reading prep for some classes. So it'll be a busy week. Today in my favorite history class we had a guest speaker from Rhodes U. in South Africa talking about labor history, trade unions, the industrial revolution--great stuff!!! But anyway...back to what I was saying. Saturday I had an all day seminar (what is with Graduate school and Saturday classes! Seriously!). Later that night I ended up going out to Benningen to see Janet and bake REAL chocolate chip cookies (you can't buy chocolate chips or proper brown sugar here, you know, but mom sent me some). Janet lives with this older lady who also had a friend (another older lady) visiting from Belgium. Veronika taught Janet to make Basler Läkerli, a bar cookie that is traditional here in town. Recipe if you want to try it out: It's pretty good! And Veronika and Esther were both quite interested in our chocolate chip cookie concoction which we managed sans pastry cutter, since also can't buy those here.

Oh, but before we baked, Janet and I went with them to go see the Bottmingen castle all decked out in lights. It has a moat and everything! Check out the pictures, especially the ones toward the bottom (you have to scroll down). That's what it looked like Saturday night, except with no snow. Janet and I shared a "hey! We live in Europe!!" moment, and Esther from Belgium kept chattering away and saying every so often that her English was TERRIBLE (it was great, actually) and telling us we need to find Swiss boyfriends to take us to dinner at the castle. We didn't disagree. I am having tons of fun hanging out with Janet! We share a good bit in common--home schooled, adventurous American girls who like school but like doing being domestic a bit more, and we both have a lot of funny and remarkably similar stories about would-be romances gone awry. Janet was a math major though! That's more adventurous than I am, that's for sure. Her German is also speeding along much faster than mine, partly because she's been here longer, goes to school in German, and talks German with her land lady who is less English-confident than my land lady. Plus I suspect she has a better knack for languages than I do. So I do my best to understand what I hear (I do understand quite a bit!), and I hope eventually I will really be able to say what I want to say in German too. I was thinking today that before I go home I should learn to say a paragraph in both Swiss German and in High German so I can demonstrate the difference to y'all. Mostly so you can sympathize with me...cuz Schwitzer Deutsche is some tough stuff!

Hey, I got a job! yeah, forgot to mention that. I am working in the French-speaking town of Delémont for a diet supplement company called SANKOM. SANKOM's claim to fame at the moment is that it was one of the products that went in the Hollywood gift bag at some award show recently...So you're talking to the newest member of their writing/editing/proofreading/layout/copy-maker/paper-shredder team. It looks like it's going to be a pretty good part-time job, and I wont be working very many hours a week--probably about nine-ish.

So, you want to know what's weird?? In Basel, Santa shows up on Dec. 6th and brings nuts and chocolate and clementines for the kids (and for me too! I didn't even have to send a forwarding address!). He talks to each kid about what he or she has done well, and what they need to improve. And there is a foreboding looking Bishop in a long black cloak standing by, with a switch in his belt for the kids who have been very bad. Simon had a friend's family over, and Santa had a word with each of them. The poor friend! When it was his turn for his talk with Santa, sweat was rolling down his face. Our Simon looked pretty chagrined too...especially when Santa told him he needs to stop throwing fits in the morning when it's time to get up and go to school. I was even glad to hear that one! Not a big fan of fits across the hall at 6 am. What's odd though, is that the roll of St. Nik and Jesus are almost swapped here--kids take Santa very seriously, and literally write letters to the Christ child telling him what they want for Christmas. And it's the Child, not Santa, that brings the tree and all the presents on Christmas. It's a strange idea to me, and seems like a distraction from what a treasure of a gift Jesus himself is. On the other hand, there is a much bigger emphasis here on the advent season and even at school there are advent candles and such. It's interesting to see how other people prepare for Christmas and what they emphasize.

That's what's goin' on, more or less! talk to you soon!


  1. Well my best luck for your semester wrap-up (I'm also at university so I'm kind of in the same situation)!

    And have a merry christmas and a happy new year!

    Maybe you can come back in time for the Basel Carnival (this year on 11-13 february). It's a must - I'll warrant you haven't seen anything like this!

  2. I'm excited for you that you get to go home, but I'll be one of those people waiting for you when you come back! Don't get discouraged with your German. If you understand a lot that's more than most American's I know (sadly). It'll come! I spread some of our chocolate chip cookie love to friends at school. :) I've not finished catching up on your blog, but I'm enjoying the ride. Blessings!

  3. "He talks to each kid about what he or she has done well, and what they need to improve." -- That description sounds like an annual performance evaluation! Perhaps I, being the wonderful HR person that I am, should train dear Santa on how to do a proper eval. :)

    See you soon!

  4. Or maybe you could just get him to do your employee evaluations for you! He seems to have it down pat. In fact, I asked my landlady how old she was when she knew santa wasn't real, and she said "Eleven, but to be honest, I'm still uncomfortable when I see him."
    That is some long term effect!